Archived news articles - 2007

GMAC, 25 Jan 2007

Survey indicates Singaporeans’ Knowledge And Attitudes Towards Genetic Modification have improved slightly since 2001.

Results of a nation-wide survey found that although fewer Singaporeans have heard of the term “genetic modification”, those who have are more informed and hold fewer misconceptions about the subject matter as compared to four years ago.

In May 2005, the Genetic Modification Advisory Committee (GMAC) commissioned a nation-wide survey to better understand Singaporean’s knowledge, attitudes and perceptions of genetic modification technology. Conducted by NUS Consulting, this survey is a follow-up of a similar study conducted four years ago in May 2001.

Data were collected through interviews of 600 Singaporean adults at public places such as shopping centres, MRT stations, bus interchanges and libraries, in different parts of Singapore.

The survey found that 40% of those surveyed have heard of the term “genetic modification”, compared to 50% in 2001. Amongst the respondents who have heard of the term “genetic modification”, almost one-half understood the terminology and basic concepts, a slight improvement from the one-third in 2001.

About 20% of the respondents thought that eating genetically modified foods could change a person’s genes. Another 34% thought that the human body cannot digest DNA or genes.

Among those that have heard of the term “genetic modification”, attitudes towards genetically modified foods were favorable. More than two-thirds believe the technology would increase food production and confer benefits to the farmers. Just as many would be willing to buy genetically modified foods if they offer tangible benefits such as better appearance, lower price or improved taste.

Less than 8% of the respondents who have heard of the term “genetic modification” believe that GM foods do not confer any benefits at all.

Most of the people interviewed reported learning about genetically modified foods from media such as newspapers, TV, magazines and radio. Just as in the 2001 survey, Singaporeans strongly believe that the Singapore government can be trusted to ensure that GM foods sold here is safe for consumption. They also place great trust in information from doctors, nutritionists and scientists.

It was also found that males, people with higher educational levels, and individuals who access the internet frequently tend to have a higher awareness of genetic modification technology. However, those with higher education tend to believe less in the media. Religious background and income do not make significant differences to attitudes.

Since 2001, GMAC, through its Subcommittee on Public Awareness, has made several efforts to educate the public on matters related to genetic modification. These include:

(a) an official website, at, featuring frequently asked questions, GM-related guidelines and links to several relevant regional and international educational sites,

(b) public forums;

(c) talks and interviews to schools, media and civic organizations; and

(d) graphics-intensive, easy-to-read educational brochures on GMOs and GM Foods, targeted at the laymen.

In response to the results of the survey and recognising the importance of nurturing an informed and educated society who would be able to separate facts from myths, GMAC will continue in its efforts to communicate with the public through multiple platforms and programs.

Copyright @ 2007 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.